Goodbye, Topshop and others!

August 19, 2020 10:07
Photo: Reuters

It is perhaps no longer big news if any retailers – whether new entrants or century-old shops – decided to bid farewell to Hong Kong as most people stay home practicing social distancing.

The latest is Topshop, a British fast fashion retailer, which has announced in Facebook and Instagram they are closing in October.

That spell the end of an eight-year venture of a two-storey 14,000 square feet outlet in Central. Arcadia Group, the parent company of Topshop, filed for bankruptcy in March.

Topshop is not the only foreign fashion brand that ended in despair. Earlier in June, Victoria’s Secret also closed its flagship 50,000 square feet shop in Causeway Bay, following the footstep of J. Crew in February. GAP will also wind down five outlets, keeping only three.

Who cares about buying new clothes anyway, especially when “work from home” dominates and no more happy hours at Lan Kwai Fong as Hong Kong has already undergone a month of dinner ban.

Readers might recall Swindon book store, which closed its iconic Tsim Sha Tsui shop last month after three generations of efforts that lasted over 102 years due to the poor economy.

Having moved to Causeway Bay for two months, I witnessed the new normal in one of the city’s most robust tourist districts. No more people walking around Sogo. No more mainlanders’ luggage seen in Times Square. No more traffic congestion and of course, no more social movement as it was last year.
The only hot spot there is Don Don Donki, around the Fashion Walk area that people always line up for their favourite Japanese delicacies as they would be in Tokyo or Osaka were there no covid-19 outbreak.

Of course Hong Kong is not the only victim. Look at United States, where over 13,000 stores are closing so far this year, according to Forbes.

Brooks Brothers, Bath & Body Works and Forever 21 are just some of the major United States brands who fell under in the tough 2020.

Here in Hong Kong, the worst is not over yet, as we stepped into half of the corporate earning season. With few rare exceptions like Tencent, numerous blue-chip corporate have seen earnings declined by between 30 per cent and 50 per cent. Tencent is one of the rare exceptions.

Think about Swire Pacific, which happens to own some of the businesses worst affected by the pandemic, such as its airline Cathay Pacific.

Well, we have seen the worst before. We know the good days will return– as we have seen in the aftermath of SARS in 2003 – and perhaps it takes a little longer this time.

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EJ Insight writer